Have you seen NBC’s Undateable lately? After a positive response to last season’s one-off live show, the cast and producers decided to do the entire second season live – and it’s one of the best things on TV right now. We’re not the only ones who think so – a simple search for #UndateableLive on any social network will show you what I mean. A few weeks ago, we visited the set to watch one of the live shows and to see what goes on behind the scenes.
The show’s writing has always been clever. But the difference between the recorded version and the now live version is like the difference between a regular hot dog and a street hot dog- it’s got tons of extra flavor on top, and it’s probably the best part of your Friday night.
The live broadcast lends itself to opportunities and risks that other shows probably wouldn’t take. The cast ad-libs many of the scenes, which gives the comedy an edgier timing that you wouldn’t see on another sitcom. The show has a self-awareness: it’s not uncommon to hear jokes about the actors’ real lives, or about the show itself. Chris D’Elia, who plays Danny, once joked that he wished he had slept with Whitney Cummings in real life; a reference to the short-lived sitcom Whitney, on which he co-starred with the comedienne.
Undateable: Where it’s OK to Botch Your Lines
Even when mishaps occur, it adds to the hilarity. In one episode, actor Brent Morin missed a scene he was supposed to be in and the other actors just asked each other where Brent was (though his character’s name is Justin) until a stage manager ushered him over.
Where was Brent? He was backstage at the bar.
That’s right. Separated from the real set by just a hallway, there’s a bar where bloggers and other digital media journalists hang out during the broadcast.
Undateable’s Social Media Skills are Strong
The interactivity with social media makes the audience at home feel like part of the show. Every show is Periscoped, Tweeted, Facebooked, Instagrammed, and Snapchatted by the cast, crew, and reporters throughout the night – even while the actors are on camera. When you see them on their phones, they aren’t just acting like we all do in bars, they’re actually sharing on social networks.
What was entirely shocking was the party-like atmosphere and attitude of the cast and crew during the broadcast. When David Fynn stopped in for a picture with me and some of the other writers covering the show, he didn’t for one second seem like he was in the middle of his workday. If you caught me at 2pm on Tuesday afternoon and tried to socialize with me, I’d probably growl at you and tell you to give me a holler about 5 hours later. At Undateable, the party vibe enhances the show.
If all this isn’t enough to convince you to watch, maybe the weekly musical guest will be. At the end of the show, everyone at the backstage bar comes out to dance. The night of my visit Saint Motel played, and the following week featured Megan Trainor.
So Friday night, when you feel like you want to do something fun, but don’t feel like going out, grab your phone, turn on Undateable at 8pm, and join the party. It’s the best of both worlds.